Starting a Round of Zinfandel Tastings Off Perfectly with Ottimino 2007 Rancho Bello Vineyard Zinfandel

This past weekend I decided to take a tasting journey through 4 different bottles of Zinfandel (so you can definitely expect to hear a lot about Zinfandel this week at Wine and Good Food).  Ottimino, a Sonoma County winery that exclusively makes Zinfandel, kindly sent me three bottles of their wine to try.  The first bottle I uncorked was their 2007 Rancho Bello Vineyard Zinfandel. 

About the Wine- From the Winery

Ottimino 2007 Rancho Bello Vineyard is 100% Zinfandel from the Russian River Valley.  It has 15.1% alcohol and retails for $26.  For more information see www.Ottimino.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Ottimino 2007 Rancho Bello Vineyard Zinfandel pours a deep plum color in the glass.  The nose is full of aromas of bright cherries, cinnamon, and oak.  The palate is smooth with tastes of dark cherry, plum, and blackberry entangled in spices.  This Zinfandel is nicely balanced and ends with a peppery finish.  I am really impressed with the harmony of the flavors in this wine.  A great start to my tastings!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs nicely with a grilled sirloin, bison burgers, or a cheese pizza.

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of the review

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A Perfectly Paired Wine Lunch Hosted by Santa Julia Winery

This week I had the incredible opportunity to enjoy a wonderful lunch put on by Santa Julia Winery.  If you read my blog, you probably have noticed a few entries featuring Santa Julia’s wines.  They are one of my absolute favorite lines of wine priced under $20.

The lunch was held at the beautiful Rivera restaurant in downtown Los Angeles.  When we arrived (I was joined by my husband Brandon), we were greeted by Julia Zuccardi, the namesake of Santa Julia, who flew in from Argentina along with the chef from the winery’s restaurant, Ana Rodriguez Armisen.  We were taken on a journey through Santa Julia’s wines and each was perfectly paired with a delicious Argentinean dish prepared by Chef Ana and the staff of Rivera.

During the appetizer reception, Chef Ana gave us a demonstration of how to make her signature Chimichurri sauce.  We were also served a tasting of their estate grown olive oils and meat empanadas.

One of the stand out wines served with the appetizers was the Santa Julia Brut Rosé NV.  It is light with notes of strawberries and cherries and is super food-friendly.  For only $13, it is a perfect apéritif.  We were also served Organica Chardonnay (review here http://wp.me/p1vdhr-g8) and the [+] Malbec…all of which I enjoyed.

We were then seated and served a first course featuring a shrimp and watermelon mojito salad paired with Santa Julia [+] Torrontes.  You can find this review on my blog at http://wp.me/p1vdhr-ej.  Torrontes is fast becoming a staple in my home and Santa Julia’s is one the best you will find for the price.

Our main course was a grilled lamb with crispy smashed potatoes, a malbec reduction, and a warming salsa criolla. 

The course was delicious and it was also paired with my favorite wine from the Santa Julia line; Santa Julia Malbec Reserva 2010.  The wine is rich with layers of ripe, dark fruit, tobacco, and vanilla.  It paired nicely with the lamb and is an incredible value for $12.

The final course of the day was a rich chocolate torte with drunken pineapple.  The torte was paired with Santa Julia Tardio 2009 (a late harvest Torrontes) which honestly exceeded my expectations.  The perfectly balanced dessert wine has an aromatic nose with notes of citrus and peach and tastes of pear, honey, and pineapple.  A nice dose of acidity elevates the wine in the finish.

Everything about our lunch was lovely.  I had great conversation with both Julia and Ana and learned a lot about the family values and sustainable farming practices that have come to make Santa Julia so successful.  I also was reminded with each course how wonderful and well-priced each of Santa Julia’s wines are.  I definitely recommend that you give at least one or two of their wines a try.  They can be found at Whole Foods and you can also get more information at www.santajulia.com.ar.  I hope you enjoy them as much as I do!

*This experience was provided by Santa Julia Winery, Winesellers Ltd, and Folsom and Associates.  The opinions contained are my own.

 

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The Perfect Way to Enjoy the Food With Your Wine

It’s not often that I write about anything other than wine but I decided to make an exception for a really cool product I was introduced to.  A couple of weeks ago I was invited to dinner with at Stefan’s at L.A. Farm in Santa Monica by Janelle McCoy from Barkley (an advertising agency in Kansas City).  I was unsure exactly what we were meeting for but Janelle seemed super nice (she is!) and Stefan (of “Top Chef” fame) is an incredible chef so I decided to join her.

It turns out that Janelle represents a flatware company called Knork.  I had heard of them before but had never used their flatware.  Over the course of the amazing dinner (spicy tuna tartar, scallops with sweet corn puree, fried parsnips, and pumpkin seed oil, and a red wine “lollipop” for dessert) I learned a lot about Knork and even had the chance to use them throughout the meal because they are the official silverware of Stefan’s.  What I concluded is that Knork makes an awesome product.  The design is beautiful and the product is truly innovative.  The fork is able to cut through chicken or a tender filet without being sharp enough to cut you.  I thought the concept was cool and perfect for parties where everyone is standing around mingling and a table isn’t available to use a knife to cut hors d’oeuvres.

The icing on the cake came after dessert when Stefan came over to visit our table.  He enthusiastically told me that Knork was the best flatware he had ever used.  He told me that they have held up amazingly (the silverware was 2 years old and barely had any scratches or damage).  He then asked me if I had tried their steak knives and I hadn’t.  He returned from the kitchen with four steak knives for me to take home and try out (and they are amazing!).

I have since had the chance to use their flatware in my own home and love it.  I only have a set of 4 and I am considering buying the complete set.  So, if you are trying to plan for your next dinner party and want to impress your guests, I really think you should check out Knork.  I get approached by different non-wine products on almost a weekly basis and I have never decided to feature any of them on my blog until now.  So hopefully this gives you an idea of how unique and functional I think Knork’s flatware is.

Back to the wine reviews tomorrow…

*This experience was kindly provided to me by Barkley and Knork  (www.Knork.net) but the opinions contained are my own.

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A Rich and Food Friendly Blend from Tablas Creek- 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc

One thing I love about living in Southern California is the abundance of amazing Mexican food.  On a weekly basis, I am sure to enjoy fish tacos, corn and goat cheese tamales, or crab ceviche (if not all 3 🙂 ).  This being said, I am always searching for the perfect wine pairing.  This past weekend I stumbled upon a bottle of Tablas Creek 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc and it was the perfect companion for my ahi tacos.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Tablas Creek 2010 Patelin de Tablas Blanc is a blend of four White Rhone varietals- 50% Grenache Blanc, 33% Viognier, 10% Roussanne, and 7% Marsanne.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $20.  For more information see www.TablasCreek.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Patelin de Tablas Blanc pours a pale straw in the glass.  The soft nose has delicate aromas of pear and citrus.  On the palate, the wine is rich and smooth with tastes of grapefruit, lemon, peach, and stonefruit.  The wine finishes with lingering tastes of citrus and a nice hit of acidity.  I was really happy with the balance and intricacies of this white blend…a great wine from Tablas Creek!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs well with ahi fish tacos, grilled mahi with mango salsa, or a blackened chicken salad.

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Wrapping of a Week of Great Values- Big House White 2010

In wrapping up a week of great values, I am finishing with a bottle of 2010 Big House White that was just released.  This wine is by no means fancy, but it’s nice to sip and definitely won’t break the bank.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Big House White 2010 is a blend of several different varieties from California.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $9.99 (although it is easy to find in the $7-8 range at Trader Joe’s or other grocery stores).  For more information see www.BigHouseWine.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Big House White pours a pale gold in the glass.  It has a sweet, fragrant nose that took me to a tropical place with notes of melon, cantaloupe, and lychee fruit.  The palate is sweet and juicy with tastes of grapefruit, pineapple, and peach with a citrus packed finish.  A solid wine for the price!

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine is easy to sip alone or would pair well with a salad with pear and goat cheese or grilled swordfish.

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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Another Amazing Wine Find From Valentin Bianchi- Elsa Bianchi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon

I am having a lot of fun trying out inexpensive wines in hopes of finding a few that are great values.  This wine from Valentin Bianchi came highly recommended from an incredibly helpful employee at one of my favorite wine shops.  It is by far one of the better Cabernets I have had at this price.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Elsa Bianchi 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet from the Mendoza region of Argentina.  It has 13.9% alcohol and retails for around $10.  For more information see www.quintessentialwines.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Elsa Bianchi Cabernet pours a deep, blackish plum color in the glass.  The fragrant nose draws you in with aromas of plum, blueberry, dark cherry, and cedar.  The palate is rich and velvety with tastes of dark berries and hints of nutmeg.  The finish lingers with notes of pepper and vanilla.  This is an incredible wine that truly drinks as if were at least twice the price.  Grab a bottle and enjoy!

My Wine Rating- B+

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Cabernet pairs well with grilled steak, a cheese plate with Gouda and Le Moulis, or dark chocolate truffles.

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Speaking of Value Wines- 2010 Big House Red

Speaking of wines under $20, I have decided to feature 3 wines throughout the rest of this week that are all around the $10 mark.  I was just graciously given a bottle of Big House Red and Big House White from Big House Wine Company.  I have reviewed a couple of their wines before and, to be honest, wasn’t expecting much.  But each bottle I have tried provided a nice, simple, and smooth wine for the price.  Both the 2010 red and white are nice values that are easy to find.  I will review the Big House Red below and the White will follow later this week.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Big House Red is a blend of several varieties from California.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $9.99.  For more information see www.BigHouseWine.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

2010 Big House Red pours a garnet color in the glass.  The nose is packed with fruit including dark berries, cherry, and plum along with a some hints of cedar.  The dark fruit continues into the palate (as the label says, this is definitely a fruit bomb) along with vanilla and a little spice in the finish.  A simple and fun Red that is better than most at $9.99.

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This wine pairs well with casual fare such as burgers, grilled pork chops, and pizza.

*This wine was given to me as a sample for the purpose of review.

 

 

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What Are Your Favorite Wine Finds For Under $20?

I am an equal opportunity wine drinker.  I have favorite wines that are $100+ a bottle and I have wines I love for under $10.  I love trying wines at different price points and I am becoming more and more aware that there are some incredible wines out their for under $20 (and sometimes far less than that!).

It’s easy to find beauties that are $60 (Jordan Cabernet is a great choice at that price point) or over $100 (always feel free to gift me a bottle of Lokoya Howell Mountain Cabernet 🙂 ) but what I also get excited over is finding a great bottle for $12.99.  Some of my recent favorites under $20 are Honig’s Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Crest’s H3 Merlot, and pretty much anything from Santa Julia.

Honig Sauvignon Blanc- A Great Find For Under $20

What are some of your most recent value wine finds?  I would love to hear about them and feature them on my blog!

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A Paso Cabernet With Value and Class- Liberty School 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon

Cabernet under $20 can be a scary thing.  I have some bad ones…some really bad ones.  Thankfully, there are some great values out there and Liberty School’s 2009 Cabernet happens to be one of them.

About the Wine – From the Winery

Liberty School 2009 Cabernet Sauvignon is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Paso Robles.  It has 13.5% alcohol and retails for $12.  This wine should be fairly easy to find at local grocery stores and I have even seen their past vintages at Trader Joe’s.  For more information see www.libertyschoolwinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Liberty School’s Cabernet pours in intense, blackish-plum in the glass.  The nose is sweet and attractive with aromas of blackberry, plum, and dark cherry.  The palate is full of fruit flavor with tastes of dark berries and plum along with notes of cedar and black pepper.  This Cabernet finishes long and dry, providing balance to its initially fruity palate.  This is a great effort by Liberty School…one of the better California Cabernets you will find at this price.

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions- This Cabernet pairs well with a grilled sirloin, lamb chops, or chocolate truffles.

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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Rich and Intense Flavor From Seufert Winery’s 2007 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir

In continuing my tasting journey through Seufert’s wines, I uncorked a bottle of their 2007 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir.  Only 80 cases were produced of this biodynamic Pinot and I was glad I got to enjoy a bottle.

About the Wine- From the Winery

Seufert Winery 2007 Momtazi Vineyard Pinot Noir is 100% Pinot Noir from the Willamette Valley region of Oregon.  It has 13.3% alcohol and retails for $35.  For more information see www.SeufertWinery.com

Now the Fun Part- Tasting the Wine

Seufert’s Pinot pours a dark plum in the glass.  The nose is rich and earthy with a bouquet of berries and cherries.  The palate is filled with intense flavors of blackberries, plum, and cherries with interwoven notes of oak.  The wine has defined tannins and ends with a spicy finish.  A powerful Pinot from Seufert that will definitely stand up to a hearty meal.

My Wine Rating- B

Food Pairing Suggestions-  This wine pairs well with veal shanks, mushroom risotto, or a roasted duck breast.

*This wine was sent to me as a sample for the purpose of review

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